Afghan group threatens to kill British hostage

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The Independent Online

A hard-line Taliban splinter group threatened to kill a woman from Northern Ireland yesterday unless British troops pull out of Afghanistan, in a move which it is feared could signal the beginning of a new Iraq-style terror campaign.

A hard-line Taliban splinter group threatened to kill a woman from Northern Ireland yesterday unless British troops pull out of Afghanistan, in a move which it is feared could signal the beginning of a new Iraq-style terror campaign.

Mullah Ishaq Manzoor, a spokesman for Jaish-e-Muslimeen, said it was holding British election expert Annetta Flanigan and her colleagues from Kosovo and the Philippines, who were dragged from their car at gunpoint on Thursday on a busy Kabul road.

Asked by Reuters how the group would respond if its demands were not met, he said: "We will not only behead them, but will chop them up as is being done in Iraq."

The previously obscure group demanded the hostages' governments stop supporting President Hamid Karzai. It said it had filmed a video of the three and attempted to prove that it was holding them by releasing the hostages' identity card numbers to a Pakistani newspaper.

But Afghan government, British embassy and UN officials in Kabul refused to confirm or deny the group's involvement.

The new level of threat is making some among the city's 2,000-strong foreign population of aid workers, teachers, consultants and UN staff consider whether to leave Afghanistan, although there were no immediate signs of an exodus.

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